Friday, 19 August 2022
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

So, we are one again! After a long 300 year wait the far south of Croatia has been reconnected with the rest of the country. The new Pelješac Bridge is up and running and traffic is flowing over the largest and indeed most important infrastructure project in the history of this country.

After 1,277 days of work, 68,000 tons of concrete and 33,600 tons of steel, we are one again.

“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges,” said the great Issac Newton. Well Issac we now have a mammoth one!

As the pomp and ceremony have passed, the last smoke from the fireworks drifted out to sea, we can start to live with the bridge. Will I use it? Yes, of course. Probably not every time I head north, but if it makes the journey faster then I course I will.

A few months ago Google Maps made a mistake and on their app the bridge was open. As I drove down from Zagreb I had two options. To cross the borders or to take the bridge. And Google was telling me that going over the bridge would be 8 minutes faster than going through the borders. I am guessing that this was 8 minutes driving time and not taking into consideration the border controls and probable traffic jams. And I’m not sure that it was even allowing for the Greeks not finishing the access roads to the south of the bridge, roads which unfortunately were not open for the grand opening. And this very fact means that Ston could be in for a rough few months as tourists and day-trippers wind through the sleepy town.

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Photo - Mark Thomas 

The new bridge is very much an international one. It might be located in Croatia, but it’s a co-operation of many countries. The main architect is from Slovenia, the money mostly came from Brussels, the work force and construction largely from China, the access roads to the north were built by the Austrians and to the south by Greeks, so the idea of naming it the Europe Bridge probably wasn’t such a bad one. Although Pelješac Bridge makes sense as larger construction projects are generally named geographically.

So what difference will it make for us in the far south?

Let’s start with tourism. We are clearly an air destination, and in spite of the bridge that probably won’t change much. We’ll get a sprinkling a new campers and day-trippers, but if that reaches one percent of the total number I would be surprised. Joining the Eurozone and Schengen will mean that tourists from Paris, Berlin and Rome will in the future be able to drive from home to us without having to show their passports. Clearly a bonus.

Then more practical reasons. The advantage of not having to exit the EU means a lot for transport companies. No more loads of paperwork and permits, no more import and export documents, meaning ease of travel and savings of time. Even moving things, and you probably didn’t expect this, like rubbish will be easier and less bureaucratic.

It is also symbolic. The re-joining of a country. These divided countries are extremely rare, but not unique in the world. And clearly any joining, by bridge or by tunnel, is better than dividing. There is far too much division in the world. And if anyone ever tells you that history doesn’t affect the present or the future than firstly tell them that they are mad, and then recount why we have just spent so much time, effort and work on building this bridge. So, yes I celebrate this opening, especially as we didn’t really pay for any of it.

There are of course negatives, but the positives far outweigh the minuses. Yes, it will not be part of the future motorway system, making it slightly obsolete in the future, and yes when Bosnia and Herzegovina is a member of the EU, it will be even more less necessary, but both the motorway and the EU membership are in the distant future. So right here and right now we need the bridge.

Even if, as Google states, it only saves us eight minutes. That’s eight minutes that I’m going to save. Golden bridge, silver bridge or diamond bridge; it doesn't matter! As long as the bridge takes you across the other side, it is a good bridge! 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to    

       

 

A forest fire broke out yesterday above the village of Orašac, near Dubrovnik. At around 12:30 yesterday the fire brigade received a call that a fire had started and they were quickly on the scene.

Around sixty firefighters were on the scene as the wind fanned the flames, and four special firefighting planes were also involved in the action. Unfortunately, the fire claimed the life of one fireman.

The fire was brought under control late in the evening, but the situation is still dangerous due to the wind, so the firefighters had a long and night ahead of them. So far, thankfully, the firefighters have managed to protect all the homes in the region.

Summer in Dubrovnik and the sporting stars keep arriving. After David Beckham and Novak Djokovic spent their summer vacation in Dubrovnik a couple of weeks ago, now it is the turn of some home-grown talent. The former Chelsea FC midfielder, Mario Stanić, who also played for the Croatian national team, and Darijo Srna, who played for Ukrainian Premier League club Shakhtar Donetsk, enjoyed a meal in the popular Dubrovnik restaurant Proto.

And from across the Atlantic the former NFL star Jerome Bettis, a legendary American football player who played 13 seasons in the NFL league, mostly for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a player, he was nicknamed "The Bus" because of his size and running style.

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This year, the city of Dubrovnik joined the celebration of International Gastroschisis Awareness Day, which was held in Croatia for the third time in a row. This Saturday the small Onofrio Fountain was illuminated with green lights, and in addition to Dubrovnik, 32 other cities provided support.

International Gastroschisis Day is celebrated on July 30 because on that day in 2008, four-month-old boy Avery Rauen, whose mother Meghan founded The Global Gastroschisis Foundation, died of complications from the disease.

For the first time, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina joined in raising awareness about gastroschisis, and on that occasion, families from those countries created a motivational poster that dispels the myths that gastroschisis is incompatible with normal life.

 

Heather Lowrie, editor and journalist of the popular daily newspaper The Scottish Sun, stayed in Dubrovnik during June, and the journalist visited Dubrovnik and Pelješac, and described her enthusiasm and details of the trip in a report.

During her several-day stay in Dubrovnik, the journalist, accompanied by a local guide, visited the main sights of Dubrovnik and got acquainted with the cultural heritage and the rich gastronomic offer of Dubrovnik restaurants. In addition to Dubrovnik, the journalist also visited Ston, which she was equally enthusiastic about. The Scottish Sun is consistently the most widely read and popular daily newspaper in Scotland with a reach of 2.7 million readers, which is 59 percent of Scotland's population.

Dubrovnik Airport is intensively connected with Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. TUI Airways flies to Glasgow every Thursday and easyJet and Jet2.com fly to Edinburgh. In the summer season of 2022, there will be 146 flights from Dubrovnik Airport to Scottish airports.

In the last 24 hours, 1,496 new cases of Covid-19 infection were recorded in Croatia, and 12 people died, the National Civil Protection Headquarters reported on Saturday.

There are 671 people receiving hospital treatment, of which 25 are on ventilators. There are currently 6,108 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 1,184,303 infected people have been recorded, of which 16,288 have died, a total of 1,157,499 people have recovered, of which 2009 recovered in the last 24 hours.

To date, a total of 5,042,959 people have been tested, of which 3,907 were tested in the last 24 hours.

As of July 28, 5,264,263 doses of vaccine were administered, and 59.57 percent of the total population, or 70.84 percent of the adult population, have been vaccinated.

 

Once again this year the Croatian Tourist Board is also organizing the handing out of bottles of water at the four main road border crossings into the country. As the late July temperatures reach the mid-thirties tourists arriving at the Croatian borders, ahead of a vacation on the Adriatic, will be in need of some refreshment.

"This is a traditional action of the Croatian Tourist Board, with which we want to make it easier for tourists to wait at the borders with the increased traffic due to the peak of the tourist season and the high temperatures," stated Kristina Mamić from CNTB.

Water will be distributed with the welcome message "Welcome to Croatia" and a QR code that leads to the Croatia.hr webpage where tourists can see the entire tourist offer.

In addition to water, they will also distribute promotional items, such as t-shirts, and the tourist board of the Istria County will distribute leaflets on fire prevention.

 

The Croatian Minister of Health, Vili Beroš, said on Friday after visiting the General Hospital in Pula that the number of people infected with the coronavirus per million inhabitants in Croatia is still lower than the average of the European Union, but due to the increase in the number of new cases of infection, there is no room for relaxation.

Minister Beroš confirmed that Croatia is recording a two-week rate of increase in the number of new infections, by 33 percent, but he believes that the numbers are not yet alarming.

"There is a growth trend, but it should be said that Croatia has 338 cases per million inhabitants, which is less than the EU average of 630 infected. The figures in some countries are even higher. For example, Germany has 1,200 and Slovenia 700 infected," said Beroš.

Variants Ba4 and Ba5 represent over 60 percent of infected people in Croatia in the past few weeks, added Beroš, who urged citizens, especially older chronically ill people, to get vaccinated.

"The existing vaccines also protect against new variants and the development of more severe forms of the disease. I urge elderly fellow citizens to get vaccinated now, and in the fall, in September, Croatia will receive vaccines for new variants," said the minister.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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